December 7, 2006

"It is a report to solve American problems, and not to solve Iraq's problems."

Iraqis respond to the Iraq Study Group's report.
For months, the Bush administration has pressured the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take steps toward bringing the warring groups together and tackle Iraq's violent militias and corruption. But the Iraq Study Group recommends withdrawing U.S. support if the Iraqis fail to show advances....

For some Iraqis, the statement suggested that the report's authors did not grasp, or refused to acknowledge, the diverse ambitions, rivalries and weaknesses that plague the government. The Kurds have dreams of creating an independent state. The Sunnis appear leaderless, yet seek a political voice. The Shiites are riven by feuds. There are disagreements over partitioning Iraq, over whether to restore members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to their old jobs, over whether amnesty should be given to opponents of the government and the U.S. occupation....

Sammarai, the Sunni lawmaker, said the Bush administration has a responsibility to fulfill its pledge to bring democracy to Iraq, in which minorities will have a voice. "Because of their mistakes, it is so complicated now," Sammarai said. "Now, they say, 'We're going to leave the Iraqis to solve their problems.' "

45 comments:

Goesh said...

Whatever will all those terrorists do if our boys and girls come home? Millions of terrorists instantly sprung to life when the first American boot was placed on Iraqi sand. Will they now return home to herd goats and sell Western knock-offs and cloth, after their victory-over-the-infidel parades that is? Will they find easier pickings elsewhere, like car bombs at resorts where infidels flock to wallow in decadence and sin? If you can blow up armed American troops, you sure ought to be able to shred some fat tourists in hotels. It would be like some well earned R&R for the lads. You know...take a month off Abdul, go to an infidel beach, feed the seagulls with their body parts, relax, get some sun, listen to the waves. We are entitled to this worrisome consideration, after all, we wrung our collective hands when women's panties were placed on the heads of prisoners.

AllenS said...

What will they do? Well, they'll kill each other for a while, until some top Islamic leader will remind the ones that are left, that Israel is just over the hill. They will be assured that Americans will not intervene in that battle, except for Bill Clinton ("I'll grab a rifle...").

Derve said...

We destabilized their country.

Bombed their homes and infrastructure, killed families in bombing, took away the leaders they tolerated and the polical system they had that was keeping tribes from slaughtering each other. It worked. It was a system working for the majority.

Now, typical American arrogance, we run away from a problem we had a hand in creating. Corporational type warfare in other lands. Just NIMBY.

Lots of evil leaders and regimes out there: where should we "help" next, do-gooders?

This action didn't help America. Didn't help Israel. Didn't help the Iraqis (spare me the sob "before" and torture-room stories). Some day, some of you will catch up and recognize that. In the meantime, beat your chests and denigrate the Iraqi people.

Nevermind Darfur or working first to clean up abuses in say, America's prison programs. We are American saviours, policemen to the world. We are winners, not losers. And if we can't win, we call off the game. 21st Century America. It's not backward-looking: what our father did in the fight, who they were -- it's who our brothers and sons are, what they have invested in their country today.

Derve said...

And remember, worldwide we're competing against more brothers and sons, sisters and daughters too, than ever before. And they're hungry and smarter than we may know.

Underestimating our enemies and fellow competitors -- not taking this war game seriously from the very beginning, infighting amongst ourselves making other political parties the enemy instead of concentrating criticism on improving performance right away, correcting course, doesn't work well in reality. Are we all there, at least? Or will the rhetoric dominate, like we still haven't realized the stake at hand, the scope of things unleashed from the Pandora's box we have opened...

monkeyboy said...

"It was a system working for the majority."


See: Slavery, Southern
See also: Burdern, White Man's

Derve said...

Who worked out that problem of American slavery? America.

Not outside intervention.

monkeyboy said...

Slavery was a problem?

It was a stable area of the country, no problem to anyone outside the area, and a system working for the majority.

My G-G-Uncle was promised he was going to be greeted with flowers, he was promised he would be home by Christmas (he was, six years later.)

All we did was create the KKK and get thousands of African Americans lynched that would have been alive if not for a bloody war.

Ron said...

Thank goodness Southerners didn't consider Grant and Sherman "outside intervention!" "See? They're Americans just like me!"

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Derve said...

Thanks Simon. Beat your chest a little harder and pony up your plan for winning over there? Oh yeah. Blame others.

Your type never did care much about actually winning and fulfilling all those promises, eh? It the appearance that matters, the arrogance of thinking you can just pay not to be a loser.

"I'm not a real cowboy; I just play one on tv." Yippikieyay and ride on away... leave yer stinkin mess for another day! :) Mission accomplished.

AllenS said...

Derve, I've read your comments to this post a couple of times, and for the life of me, I can't figure out the point you're trying to make. Is it just aimless anger.

Xanthippas said...

Simon,

Yeah, "we". As in America. I for one would love to place all the blame entirely on the idiots who created this war and mismanaged the occupation, but since it was my country that invaded, I get a share of the blame. So do you. So does Derve.

Incidentailly, Derve is lamenting that we're going to bail on the Iraqis. Maybe you didn't understand that part.

Simon said...

Xanthippas said...
"Incidentailly, Derve is lamenting that we're going to bail on the Iraqis. Maybe you didn't understand that part."

How is that incidental, and how can you seriously suggest I didn't understand that part? That was the whole point I was making: Derve is "lamenting that we're going to bail on the Iraqis," ("bail[ing] on the Iraqis" being a coy euphemism for "cutting and running") despite the fact that "bail[ing] on the Iraqis" is the policy and the platform of the party she supports. If Derve is so cut up about cutting and running, maybe she shouldn't have supported a Democratic Congress!

Cedarford said...

The Sunni reaction by folks like Samarrai are amusing: You Americans can't leave! You owe us! Sure, we Sunnis are responsible for 98% of American casualties, 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians, sabotage of the whole reconstruction thing,,,,but if you leave, you'll screw us! Saying we must meet milestones or you stop protecting us from the Kurd and Shia militias is offensive to our tribal honor! All we have are snipers, IEDs, and car bomb factories! Our blood will be on your hands!

And equally amusing is a Leftie like Derve.

* - It's ALL America's fault! We destabilized their happy desert paradise and put panties on their heads!

* - Moooooooaaaaaannn! Oh, the lives of those too stupid for college, terroristic war criminal, torturing Bible-thumping Red Staters being lost is just too much for us San Franciscans to bear....*Sob. sob.* That is why we are running on our heroes Pelosi and Murtha's banner. Out now! Prosecute the War criminals! No more Vietnams!

* - You mean people are actually thinking seriously of "cutting and running"?? From a little election and change of Congress? Gutless Red State cowards! "Now, typical American arrogance, we run away from a problem we had a hand in creating."

* - And what about Darfur?? What about our supreme moral obligation to intervene and die so Muslim doesn't butcher Muslim? How can we just sit back and fail to send the troops in to save them?

Lordy, lordy, it's just precious. The American and EuroLeft get the fruits of their labor - governments determined sit on their asses, sacrifice nothing, not to intervene in Muslim civil wars or genocides and determined to watch their sacred UN and Kofi-God be ineffectual.
Secular progressive Jews at the ACLU and other places get what they wanted in working so hard to defeat the evil Bush-Hitler torturers and civil liberties takers....Precious enemy rights placed as paramount over US citizen's rights....And a Congress willing to cut Israel loose.

How sweet it must be for Derve!

A PS Historical footnote: Who worked out that problem of American slavery? America.

Not outside intervention.
Derve.

Actually, the British Royal Navy, after *spit* British Christians made their government agree that slavery was unacceptable...ended the practice of slavery in their colonies (except Muslim areas where resistance to ending slavery triggered Jihad) and more importantly - stopped all global shipment of slaves on the High Seas long before our Civil War.

vegetius said...

I gotta' wonder why no one ever tries to get the story from someone who's been there
http://www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com/

The ISG never wandered outside the Beltway.

Balfegor said...

Or will the rhetoric dominate, like we still haven't realized the stake at hand, the scope of things unleashed from the Pandora's box we have opened.

I'm rather surprised hearing this kind of thing from you. Usually, the punch-line, after this kind of buildup, is "Let's nuke Mecca!" Or possibly some other invitation to genocide.

In all honesty, though, I think that what you have said is really applicable to the populations in the Middle East -- or rather, the dictators who have led them, and the criminal gangs (e.g. Hizbullah) who control them from the margins, had no idea what they were preparing when they spent the past 50 years cultivating their hatred of the US. It bubbled over in 2001, and they're getting massive blowback. Sow, reap whirlwind, sleeping dragons lie, etc. The blowback is comparatively mild, at the moment, even if it's toppled two governments already, but I think, before this is finished with, that there is far greater suffering in store for them and their peoples.

--

All that aside--

re:
"It is a report to solve American problems, and not to solve Iraq's problems."

Uh, James Baker headed the group. Can anyone be even remotely surprised that this is the case?

Harry Eagar said...

I suggest they hold that conference in Munich.

Bruce Hayden said...

I esp. appreciated Cedarford's comments here. The Sunni Arabs are beleagured now because they have been murdering innocent civilians with increasing abandon and brutality. They are trying to use this brutality to regain control, or at a minimum, gain much greater power in the country than can be justified given their 15-20% of the population.

Simon said...

This critique of Baker-Hamilton by Robert Tracinski is great: Captain Obvious to the rescue. It reveals Baker-Hamilton's basic tautology:

"The problem in Iraq is that we can't withdraw US troops because the Iraqi military is not adequately trained to maintain security on its own? Well then, the ISG tells us, all we need to do is to train the Iraqi military so that they can maintain security on their own, and then we can withdraw our troops.

The problem in Iraq is that the Iraqi government won't approve a crackdown to dismantle the Shiite militias? Well then, all we have to do is to convince the Iraqi government to approve a crackdown to dismantle the Shiite militias.
"

More at the link.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Average daily American military fatalities, 1775 to 2001: 14. Since 2001: two.

The ISG report (and I've read a fair chunk of it) is the last gasp of a fading generation -- straight out of 1978, and about as relevant as the Wang Programmable Calculator of that same era.

It will eventually be seen as the addle-brained relic of consistently unsuccessful multi-lateralists, but for now it's got its 15 minutes of fame.

Like the drunk who finally understands (s)he had to have every single drink to get to the point of deciding to deal with the problem, we must (as we did in 1938) go through this phase in order to be so fed up with the approach that we'll finally sweep it out of the way and do what we have to do to end the threat.

The current problems were caused by the 1925 - '43 generation's naive hope that "if only we talk to each other we can prevent war." We won't solve these problems by further applications of the same mentality that created them.

Garage Mahal said...

Bart

Just because you couldn't talk to our adversaries, or work out a deal, it doesn't mean that someone else can't. If we're afraid we might get a bad deal, then we're sending the wrong people to negotiate.

The model we should follow is Libya 2003. Remember them? They had all kinds of nasty chem/bio weapons, much more advanced than Saddam ever had. But the U.S. and Brits worked out a great deal with back-door diplomacy, behind the scenes. No more WMD, and routine inspections. I know this doesn't give you, or neocons a big boner, but really, it seems to me the best end result.

Simon said...

"The model we should follow is Libya 2003. Remember them? They had all kinds of nasty chem/bio weapons, much more advanced than Saddam ever had. But the U.S. and Brits worked out a great deal with back-door diplomacy, behind the scenes."

The reason that the Libyans gave up their weapons in 2003 wasn't just because we cut them a deal, it was precisely because, in 2003, it looked like the United States were both willing and able to get tough with regimes like Iraq and Libya! They gave up those weapons because we'd just flattened Saddam, and they were terrified that they were next!

The Jerk said...

They gave up those weapons because we'd just flattened Saddam, and they were terrified that they were next!

That isn't true. Read the Suskind book for an account of what actually happened. Libya's capitulation was primarily caused by a long-standing diplomatic effort. The Iraq invasion played a small role, if any.

monkeyboy said...

How long will "a long standing diplomatic effort" take with Iran and Syria? and what happens to the Iraqi people during all this?


Not that I'm against talking, buts its not a bloodless choice, and unless we put some serious pressure on those two it may all end up costing a lot.

Garage Mahal said...

The reason that the Libyans gave up their weapons in 2003 wasn't just because we cut them a deal, it was precisely because, in 2003, it looked like the United States were both willing and able to get tough with regimes like Iraq and Libya! They gave up those weapons because we'd just flattened Saddam, and they were terrified that they were next!

I'm sure your're is at least partially correct. But if you're totally correct, we should be able to pack up and go home, and not worry about the ME again. There are some decent articles in the WSJ Opinion Journal, (if you can stay away from Judy Miller) on the Libya deal.

But really, the internet is raining idiots saying we can't talk to any country, under any circumstances, and cite some bullshit WWII analogy. The fact is, alot of our "enemies" have cooperated with us fighting terrorism.

Balfegor said...

The model we should follow is Libya 2003. Remember them? They had all kinds of nasty chem/bio weapons, much more advanced than Saddam ever had.

Oh, forget Libya. The model we should follow is South Africa<, which actually succeeded in developing nuclear weapons, and had one of the most advanced chemical and biological weapons programs in the world. And then gave it up.

Of course, our failure to contain South African weapons development back in the 70s is probably one of the reasons we ultimately decided to invade Iraq. They told us (and the Soviets) they'd terminated their weapons program, after the Soviets detected what they thought was a nuclear test. They lied (shockingly enough). It just went underground.

Anyhow, given that South Africa is, I think, our one successful experience with putting the genie back in its bottle, that ought to be among our guiding cases.

Garage Mahal said...

Of course, our failure to contain South African weapons development back in the 70s is probably one of the reasons we ultimately decided to invade Iraq...

We invaded because they didn't have WMDs, not because they did. They were warned not to invade by several Arab countries who knew better, but truth be damned. Israel reduced a country to rubble over a few kidnapped soldiers, but wouldn't take action against Saddam's weapons stockpiles, or a nuke program?

We would have just bombed sites, instead of sending tens of thousands of Americans into a hellfire of chem/bio weapons, IMO.

Simon said...

The Jerk said...
"That isn't true. Read the Suskind book for an account of what actually happened."

You mean the Suskind book that cites absolutely no sources, and that everyone denies contributing to? I'm sure it makes for great reading, but I'm not sure we should resort to borderline fiction to understand history. You might as well tell someone that they can understand what was really going on in the Soviet Union in the 1980s by reading a Tom Clancy novel, although at least then they'll know they're being swindled.

Cedarford said...

The Garage Mahal revisionism is wrong. While several countries urged us not to invade for other reasons, all were convinced that Saddam had WMD. That was Jordan, Syria, Egypt, KSA security, the Turks. On top of Germany, UK, Russia, Israel, and China believing that Saddam was cheating on chem and bio weapons and "mixed" on what they believed about nukes and missile development. The disagreement on the war was over containment vs. invasion..which many feared would destabilize the region. Many took the WMD as a given - but said the UN, inspections, and sanctions could still do the job....

Many, inc Jordan and Russia, had specific HUMINT, multiple-sourced within Iraq that TOLD them they had heard it straight from Saddam.

What had happened was Saddam had done the same ruse with his own Generals and Muqubarat and ministers...who leaked out that some Saddam Feyadeen and some Republican Guard units had the stuff. At the beginning of the war, Iraq's generals were all convinced that some other generals were waiting on orders to launch and in interviews said they were scared the Americans would show no mercy once hit with special weapons.

It never happened.

Only a few in an inner circle of Saddam's most loyal followers knew it was a lie Saddam had devised to intimidate his neighbors - a lie he could not take back without suffering great humiliation.
****************************
Vegetius - gotta' wonder why no one ever tries to get the story from someone who's been there
http://www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com/

The ISG never wandered outside the Beltway.


The ISG was organized to serve as a macro perspective team - not to do man in a bunker interviews or man in the seething Arab street interviews.

If they had, they could have issued a good report that said what the soldiers want is more 1st-run movies, call-home cards, and bug spray and that we were winning in Iraq and the soldiers were kicking ass and meeting all sorts of "great Iraqis". Conversely, if they spent time with the seething, angry Arab street they would have reported the "Real Problems" were Israel, lack of devotion to Islam, hereic Shiites, Western pornography and cartoons needing to be censored, and lack of US money sent to the angriest Arabs.

Groups like the ISG, 9/11 Commission, the Welfare Reform and Social Security Commissions of the 80s are set up to maintain a certain distance from those directly involved but of limited insight or perspective - but which might affect the commission's objectivity if they were listened to, too closely.
You typically wait and get those "stakeholder's opinions" when the report is issued or in a review and comments phase.

In the ISG group, comments upon issuance...where global, regional and USA leaders are weighing their own opinions on it and those of their GI or Jihadi or Sally Sixpack or Ahmed the bazaar merchant constituencies...and powerful wealthy lobbies like Israel's and KSA's and Hezbollah.

Actions follow comments, which are assimilated along with the ISG Report recommendations by key people like Bush II, Pelosi, Warner, Ayatollah Kameini, Omert, Prince Abdullah, Sistani, Gen Abizaid..in charting actions..

knoxgirl said...

It was a system working for the majority.

I'm pretty sure the Sunnis comprise only about 20% of the Iraq population. Not sure how you figure that to be a majority.

We destabilized their country.
Iraq was "stable" under Saddam?

Corporational
??

knoxgirl said...

If we leave before things are stabilized, they have every right to be pissed at us. However, that's what the democrats have been pushing for since day 1, so not sure where a lot of the complaints from that end are coming from...

vegetius said...

Cedar:
"macro perspective" = blithering generalities..

As I understand it:
None of the ISG is under 67 years of age, none served in the military, none did recent extensive travel or service in the region...not exactly my dream team for fresh alternatives. Geriatric wonks gone wild.

Balfegor said...

We invaded because they didn't have WMDs, not because they did.

What I mean is that in the past, we'd been told by other powers that "yes, our nuclear program is over and done with," and we were lied to. So when the Iraqis came up and told us that they'd terminated their nuclear program, we knew not to take them at their word. They wouldn't show the all remnants of the program, establish chain of custody, etc. -- the stuff necessary to verify. They were playing games with us, the UN, and the inspectors, so we came down on them.

You are correct, though, that if they had nuclear weapons already, we wouldn't have risked invading.

Derve said...

"If we leave before things are stabilized, they have every right to be pissed at us."

We've got you on record with that one, knoxgirl. Let's all just keep watching, shall we?

Derve said...

With tears in our eyes, as necessary.

But whatever happens, don't you dare avert your eyes and look away. You can watch and remember, if that's the least you do.

And then show me how much chest thumping the US does. (That's us you're referring to, right? the United States?)

Balfegor said...

But whatever happens, don't you dare avert your eyes and look away. You can watch and remember, if that's the least you do.

This is good advice for the wreck we (or rather, we and our European allies) made of the entire Middle East after WWII. Saddam, Assad, Sadat, Mubarak, the Shah, Khomeini, the Saudis -- they are all of them emblematic of our failure in the Middle East. We were, and in some cases, still are the enablers for their crimes. They could not have come to power without us, or without the Soviets, or the French, or the British, and so on down the line. We looked away before, and were content with the annual sacrifice of innocents, with the rape rooms and the electrodes, with the mass executions and the occasional slaughter, so long as the oil continued to flow. That was, in retrospect, a mistake. And it will be the same mistake again, if we choose that solution for Iraq.

The Jerk said...

You mean the Suskind book that cites absolutely no sources, and that everyone denies contributing to? I'm sure it makes for great reading, but I'm not sure we should resort to borderline fiction to understand history.

Wow, people deny contributing to a book that makes their boss look bad? You're right, it must be fiction! I've come around to your view. We should ignore an actual account of the events and instead go with the explanation that comports with your ideological predisposition. Because, of course, we see how George's big stick scared the Iranians and North Koreans into abandoning their nuclear programs.

knoxgirl said...

With tears in our eyes, as necessary.

But whatever happens, don't you dare avert your eyes and look away. You can watch and remember, if that's the least you do.

And then show me how much chest thumping the US does. (That's us you're referring to, right? the United States?)


What the hell

Cedarford said...

vegitius - As I understand it:
None of the ISG is under 67 years of age, none served in the military, none did recent extensive travel or service in the region...not exactly my dream team for fresh alternatives


You don't appear to "understand it". If you had looked up the group you would see 6 of 10 members had military service. Hamilton, O'Connor, possibly Jordan, and Simpson did not - though I believe if I dug deeper, I would find Simpson had some reservist military status...and Hamilton is a foreign intelligence expert of high bipartisan admiration.

All members visited Iraq for around a week in July-August. Perry, Eagleburger, Baker have extensive ME backgrounds and countless visits and consults with the key regional players. They met with over 30 major Iraqi figures here or in Iraq. Their staff met with Israelis, Turks, Saudis, Syrians, and Iranians.

The 10 members had 44 staff with extensive military and diplomatic backgrounds working up the report and interviewing.
*****************
Derve, sorry, but I say "what the hell??" too. You've lost us in your incoherence.
*********************
Balfegor - all of them emblematic of our failure in the Middle East. We were, and in some cases, still are the enablers for their crimes. They could not have come to power without us, or without the Soviets, or the French, or the British, and so on down the line. We looked away before, and were content with the annual sacrifice of innocents, with the rape rooms and the electrodes

No, all you do by blaming America and other nations is cast Muslims as helpless little children not responsible for their own messes. The same transnation forces are at work globally and no other region save Africa is as dysfunctional as the bulk of the Muslims are.

Bruce Hayden said...

Actually, the problem goes back before WWII, to the aftermath of WWI, when the victors were splitting up the remains of the Ottoman Empire. Some have placed the blame on Churhill, but others on Gertrude Bell. She conceived of Iraq and groomed its first monarch, Emir Faysal of Mecca. She loved the Sunni Arabs, but apparently had a deep distrust for the Shia. She blamed them for the revolt against the British at the end of the war, and they didn't fit her picture of the romantic Arab. And the Shia recipricated her dislike. So, she made sure that her type of Arabs ran the country. And the rest is history. Except for a brief period of time between when Faysal's grandson, Faysal II, was overthrown in 1958 and another coup in 1963, the Sunni Arabs ran Iraq for the intervening 80 years. As the Sunni Arabs became ever more beleagered, esp. after the First Gulf War, they became ever more brutal in their subjection of the Shia and Kurds.

So, after we overthrew Saddam Hussein, the Shia and the Kurds effectively took control of their country, in keeping with their now approximately 85% of the population. But violence and brutality worked before, so it should work again, and that is what the foreign born terrorist, notably those under Zarqawi, and the Ba'thists tried to do, upping the ante as their power disappeared.

But this time, they didn't have the guns or the army to back them up. Rather, they were now in the hands of their enemies, the Shia and the Kurds, thanks to our intervention. So, they got ever more brutal in their indiscriminate mass murder of innocent civilians. And finally, after years of cautioned restraint by their clerics, the Shiites finally started striking back (though mostly in a much more highly targetted manner against those who have participated in the murder of Shiites and their families). And that is why many think that there is a civil war going on now.

Bruce Hayden said...

I suspect part of the commission's problem is that they listened a lot to some of our traditional allies in the Middle East - esp. the Saudis. But the Saudis are also the ones who talked the former President Bush into abandoning the Marsh (Shiite) Arabs and the Kurds in the aftermath of Gulf War I, after he had pushed them to rebel.

The Saudis are grossly compromised here as far as their objectivity. As noted above, they see this as a war between Sunni Islam, led by themselves, and Shia Islam, led by Iran. And after 80+ years of brutality by their type of Arabs keeping the Shia and the Kurds under their thumb, it is now payback time. And the Saudis would love an excuse to jump in and protect the remaining Sunni Arabs in Iraq. This would accomplish a couple of things. First, and probably least important, it might save some of the ever more beleagured Sunni Arabs in Iraq. More importantly, it would split the forming Shiite crescent in the heart of Islam, running from parts of Pakistan and Afganistan, through Iran, Iraq, and into Lebanon and Syria. It would also contain Iran, completing its encirclement of that country.

But because of this, if the Saudis themselves, or some surrogate of theirs, intervenes, the Iranians will most likely feel compelled to do the same. And blood will flow. A lot of it.

Nevertheless, they would still love for us to give them the excuse and the cover to do so.

Cedarford said...

Hayden, the only problem with your "it's all Sunni Arabs" doing scenario is that before Gertrude Bell & Co ever arrived, the Sunni Ottomans ruled with Jewish and Sunni Arab agents doing most the scutwork and tax collections and with the Shia and Kurd oppressed. Before the Ottomans, you had Sunni Mamlukes, before them, the Mongol equal opportunity killers, and before that a Sunni Arab Caliphate ruled over the ME.

The matter of Shiite and Kurds being second fiddles to the Sunnis goes back over 1,100 years to the defeat of Ali and the subjugation of Kurds to Sunni conquerers and then the Kurds having sporadic off and on periods of limited autonomy, starting 900 years ago.

Blaming the schisms of Islam's sects and ethnicities on Europeans is like Koreans blaming America for the division and the 2 millenia of problems the Koreans had with China and Japan.

Balfegor said...

Re: Cedarford:

No, all you do by blaming America and other nations is cast Muslims as helpless little children not responsible for their own messes. The same transnation forces are at work globally and no other region save Africa is as dysfunctional as the bulk of the Muslims are.

They are, of course, responsible for throwing up tyrants and dictators and the like. And no one ever told them to set up rape rooms or to torture dissidents or whatever (I think -- frankly, I wouldn't put it past Carter, because as has come out in the past few years, his government actually gave the go-ahead on the Kwangju Massacre in Korea).

But we are responsible too, because we actively intervened by picking and choosing among the forces at work then, and choosing the forces we thought would work best for us. Given our wealth, when we decided to put our influence, weaponry, and knowhow at the disposal of the people who emerged as the middle east's new rulers, after the collapse of the earlier (saner) Ottoman empire, we made it very difficult for rival powers to establish themselves. Not impossible -- the revolution in Iran demonstrated that. And many of the Arab states played us and the USSR off against each other. But difficult.

Infantilising the people Middle East is, obviously, an asinine thing to do, whether it's the old "Wogs can't do democracy" thing, or the more modern "Whites ruined everything" thing. But while they're all their own peoples, screwing up catastrophically as people tend to do, we shouldn't shy away from the fact that we have proven, in the past, a decisive influence in Middle Eastern affairs, and that we're dealing with a system that emerged out of the choices we made in the postwar period, both after the Great War, when the European powers divided the Middle East up, and after WWII, when we and the USSR divided the world up. And in retrospect, many of those were bad choices. Understandable at the time, but if we could go back and make them all over again, I don't think we'd do it quite the same.

Harry Eagar said...

I agree with most of what Bruce says, but it can be boiled down quite a bit. If America is a nation of principle rather than realpolitik (and it used to be, sometimes), then there is a principle at stake here.

Any statement about revised policy has to begin with words like these:

'Because the American commitment to democracy and peace is based on self-determination of the peoples, the United States supports and will defend the existence of a free and independent Great Kurdistan.'

Full stop, as the Brits say.

Of course, if we did that, the Turks, Russians, Persions and Arabs would be pissed at us. There's no downside, is there?

My position before this idiot war was started was that if you wanted to bring down Saddam, all you had to do was arm the Kurds.

hdhouse said...

I thought our pledge was to rid Iraq of WMDs not bring democracy to Iraq. Or was it to topple Saddam? Or was it to fight the Taliban over there so we wouldn't have to fight them over here? Or was it to bring democracy to the region? Or was it to build a democratic and independent Iraq? Or was it WMDs again?

I dunno. What? me worry?

No wonder there is no way out. Damned if we stay, damned if we leave. This is a fine mess you've gotten us into Ollie.